Your Questions: Answered - Written by Barry & Richard on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 14:18 - 3 Comments
Ask Peter: Local sponsorship request causes headache – CEO Mabey Group answers your questions
I run a manufacturing business in the South West. Our customers are mostly UK based and one of them has asked us to sponsor a local sports team. The sponsorship is just over £10,000 and the client is important to us. What would your approach be to this?
This request makes me very nervous. I have no problem with a company providing sponsorship to local sports teams, especially youth teams. I have agreed to buy several kits for such teams in the past, almost all with a direct connection to an employee, such as a son playing in a local under 11’s football team.
The cost is generally well below a £1,000 and the instigator either an employee or other local person with no commercial connection to the business. This is good for the community and with a few photographs can be used as positive PR for the business. As soon as the request comes from a customer, or potential customer, then I am concerned.
I have to assume that the team in question has some ‘value’ to the person requesting the payment, either a personal interest in the team or possibly a desire to be seen by others in the community to be gathering sponsorship for a local ‘good cause’, increasing the persons ‘standing’ in the community.
Either way I would not wish to get involved with such a large sum, even if it proved to be entirely innocent it could do significant reputational damage if it was discovered by the press.
However, if the individual had, for example, forwarded details of a local charity which is seeking donations and for which he was intending to ‘run a marathon’ or similar, then I could be sympathetic to a small donation, assuming that such a payment did not coincide with the potential award of a new contract.
My usual approach to such requests is to apply the ‘local paper’ rule, which is, how would I feel about answering questions about the donation or sponsorship from a local journalist? Would I be embarrassed in any way by the payment?
The request for £10,000 as described would fail this test every time.